Viewing wildlife in a natural setting is part of the attraction of Florida State Parks. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park offers an amazing experience that will engage and entertain people of all ages. On the particular day that this writer visited, there were more seniors and adults than children being enthralled by what they were seeing.
You have two options for how to enter the park. If you want to take the scenic riverboat trip then you enter on U.S. 19. You can also take the tram from the Visitor Center to the West Entrance. If you prefer, you can go right to the Western Entrance of the park. Abundant parking is available at both locations.
In reality, waiting to take the riverboat lasted longer than the actual trip down Pepper Creek but the wait was worth it for the ability to see wildlife in their natural habitat and enjoy the vegetation along the way as well. The boat is handicap accessible so everyone can enjoy the trip. When the crowd became overly large an additional boat was added to keep things moving.
The concession is located at the Western Entrance. The food is quite good and the prices are reasonable. A park store is located at both entrances. Once you enter the park, the trail that weaves through the different animal exhibits is slightly over one mile long. Some seating is located along the way so don’t worry about getting tired, you can stop and rest.
One of the big attractions are the manatees and they are closer to the end of the walk but along the way, the hippo Lu is extremely popular and if you are lucky, you will get to see the ranger feeding him which makes for a much better photo op. The alligators are a major presence and you will get to see many up-close and personal.
Bird lover will think they have died and gone to bird heaven, everything from flamingos to bald eagles are offered. Multiple variety of owls and egrets as well. For dedicated bird lovers, a birding trail that runs along Pepper Creek offers additional bird watching opportunities.
Manatee were available to view in a tank as well as in the springs. Many other wildlife viewing opportunities are offered including the Florida panther and a black bear. Be on the lookout for daily programs being offered. Check out the park website for additional information.
The park is very entertaining for seniors as well as children and everyone in between. Allow several hours to see as much as you can. One visit is not enough for most people, this may just become one of your favorite getaway destinations. If you happen to be into geocaching, Homosassa Springs State Park is home to several interesting stashes.